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The Lumineers


Denver-based band The Lumineers were founded by New Jersey natives Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites. Schultz grew up taking drawing classes with Fraites’ older brother Joshua, who died of a drug overdose in 2002. Playing music together was initially part of their grieving process.

In 2005, with Schultz on guitar (and using pencils for lyrics instead of pictures) and Fraites on drums, they began performing gigs in and around New York City. They used different monikers, like “Wesley Jeremiah”, until one night when a club announcer got mixed up and introduced them as “Lumineers”, a band scheduled for a different week. Schultz and Fraites came out and played, and a few days later decided they liked that name so added “The” to it.

Struggling for years to make it in the Big Apple, The Lumineers decided to relocate in 2009 to Denver, where the cost of living was much lower. Not long after settling there, they placed an ad on Craigslist for cellist. That led them to Neyla Pekarek, who also played mandolin and piano, plus could sing.

As a three-piece The Lumineers sound began to broaden into an amalgamation of folk, acoustic rock and pop. They’ve cited a wide array of artists as their inspiration – from Beethoven and Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen and Guns N’ Roses.

In 2011, The Lumineers self-recorded an eponymous EP as well as self-booked a tour around the US to try to raise their profile. However, it was the release of the single Ho Hey, first featured on an episode of the TV show Hart Of Dixie in December, that drew in fans of all ages.

By early 2012, The Lumineers had signed with the independent record label Dualtone and their contagious hit Ho Hey was released early that summer as the lead single from their self-titled debut full-length album. Generally met with positive reviews and boasting two more singles – Stubborn Love and Submarines – it climbed to No.2 on the Billboard 200, reached No.8 on the UK albums chart and eventually went triple platinum in the US. At the 2012 Grammys, The Lumineers were nominated for Best New Artist and Best Americana Album.

Over the next four years the band toured nonstop. Schultz and Fraites also co-wrote the haunting District 12 folk song The Hanging Tree that Jennifer Lawrence sang in the 2014 film The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1.

In February 2016, The Lumineers released Ophelia, the first single from their eagerly anticipated sophomore album Cleopatra, which arrived two months later and topped the charts in the US, UK and Canada. Based on experiences they had while touring, the title track was sparked by an encounter Schultz had with an elderly female taxi driver in the Republic of Georgia. In addition to Ophelia and Cleopatra, her story was told across three other songs on the album – Sleep On The Floor, Angela and My Eyes – which The Lumineers compiled into one narrative video in 2017 called The Ballad Of Cleopatra.

The group embarked on their second world tour shortly after the album’s release, and in 2017 joined U2 for the North American leg of The Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour.

The following year saw both Shultz and Fraites become first-time fathers – with their sons born just two months apart. Also in 2018, Pekarek left the band to purse a solo career.

In 2019, The Lumineers released their third album III, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and peaked at No.8 on the UK albums chart. The emotionally charged collection of 10 tracks was presented in three chapters following different generations of a fictional family while depicting the toll addiction had on them. A visual manifestation of the III premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival that September.

For this pivotal project, Schultz and Fraites had enlisted violinist Lauren Jacobson, who also appeared on their earlier albums, as well as pianist Stelth Ulvang, bassist Byron Isaacs and multi-instrumentalist Brandon Miller – all of whom form The Lumineers touring band. In April 2020, they appeared together in an NPR Tiny Desk concert.

On 20 May 2021, The Lumineers released the EP Live From The Last Night Of The Tour, which was recorded in Wisconsin on 11 March 2020 the day before the world paused due to the coronavirus pandemic. Schultz and Fraites also confirmed dates for a 2022 UK tour.

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